Lexus LF-Ch hybrid at 2009 Frankfurt motor show

Published: 09 September 2009

Lexus is eyeing up the premium hatchback market – and this LF-Ch is the first mission statement from the Japanese. Why LF-Ch? The name denotes the latest styling from the L-Finesse design mantra; the 'C' denotes a C-segment mid-sized hatch; and the 'h' means it's a hybrid. Inevitably really, considering it'll launch at the Frankfurt motor show which will be dominated by battery and electric powered cars.

So is the Lexus LF-Ch going to be built?

Oh yes. And sooner than you'd think. CAR understands the LF-Ch will appear in very similar format as early as summer 2010. Lexus talks of the juxtaposition of abrupt machined surfaces with more fluid, hand-sculpted detailing. We say it looks wedgy, sharp, fresh in the Golf/A3/1-series class. Shades of a four-door Scirocco perhaps? Editor Phil McNamara reckons there are even hints of Infiniti E37 around the rear glasshouse.

The B-pillars are blacked-out with Alfa-style door handles, lending the coupé-like silhouette more credibility. And those 20-inch wheels wear stubby 225/35 boots for maximum motor show impact.

Why is Lexus moving into the C-segment?

Simple: they say the C segment will be biggest sector of the premium market by next year. And being a brand on a roll, Lexus is responding in kind. Interestingly, there will be no petrol or diesel version – leaving a standalone hybrid version.

Lexus has been quietly dropping petrol versions of its LS, GS and RX models; in the UK, you can only buy petrol models by special order, and the hatchback will continue the petrol-electric theme.

What's the LF-Ch like inside?

This is our first glimpse inside, after a series of teased and leaked images have already revealed the exterior. It features the same Remote Touch mouse-style multi-controller as in the new RX – a different take on the haptics of iDrive et al.

It's not clear yet which powertrain lurks under that mustard metallic bonnet. We hear it's likely to be related to the Toyota Prius drivetrain, giving zero-emissions ability and the potential for high mpg and low CO2.

A very apposite launch to look out for at Frankfurt, then.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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